MP3 Player Breaks $100 Barrier

SONICblue , the maker of the industry’s first MP3 player, the Rio 300, has unveiled a sub-$100 model as it tries to attract entry-level buyers looking for an inexpensive portable digital music device.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company said its new Rio One is priced at $99 and is available now on its Web site. It will begin North American shipment to retailers such as Best Buy, Circuit City and CompUSA within two weeks.

The digital audio player resembles more expensive, feature-rich Rio models priced between $170 and $500. The Rio One has 32MB of built-in memory, a USB connection for fast music transfers, one hour of music playback and audio management software for the PC and Macintosh platforms. It can also be upgraded using 32MB and 64MB smart media cards to support up to five hours of playback. It also comes with a carrying case and car adapter.

The Rio One is powered by Texas Instruments’ low-power, programmable digital signal processor (DSP) technology. The MP3 player contains TI’s TMS320C54x processor, which helps the device play up to 10 hours of music on one AA battery.

SONICblue touts the new products as ideal for “teens, students and other first-time buyers seeking extreme portability and at least an hour’s worth of high-quality music playback without the cost of premium features.”

“As a first mover and leader in the MP3 market, we believe that the Rio brand represents a level of excellence unmatched by any of its competitors,” said Janet Leising, SONICblue’s vice president of marketing and business development. “The Rio One doesn’t compromise on functionality and quality.”

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